Happy New Year! Let’s Get This Party Started!

And thus, with the ringing in of 2013, my home decorating (as well as blogging about it) begins in earnest.  I have spent the first six weeks of my residence at this home unpacking, scheming, stashing, organizing, and formulating.  And now– I have a plan.  It may be general in some areas, and it may change over time, but I have a sense of what I want to accomplish in every room, as well as a general color scheme.   Harder still was trying to figure out where to start!

Bare-Bones Guest Room

I finally decided I’m going to begin with my guest room, partially because it seems it could easily be left for last, and I really don’t want that to happen.  Its not an *exciting* first room to decorate, but it has some built-in truths that cause me to choose it as my primary project for the moment.  The first of these truths is the furnishings, followed by my wants for the room….  frankly, I want guests.   (Oh, and excuse the oranges… my cats are camera sluts.)

My Bird’s Eye Maple Chest of Drawers

The ‘furnishings’ I’m referring to are the antique pieces I cannot get rid of… or don’t want to get rid of, really.  My chest of drawers has been in the family a little more than a century, and was purchased at my great-great-grandfather’s store, Robinson’s Furniture.  My father said that when he was a kid in the fifties, he viewed it then as an “old” piece of furniture.  It has bird’s eye maple veneer and is an absolutely beautiful honey golden color, so painting it would be ruinous.  Its pretty funny, really, because of how ALL ABOUT painting furniture I am, that none of the pieces in this room are items I would even *consider* painting.  (Maybe the bed.  Maybe.  But I’ll explain that….)  The hardware is all original, in great shape too, all of the handles still move cleanly, and are very delicate and elaborately detailed.  It was made very, very well.  This piece of furniture has been in my bedroom literally– I do not use that word loosely or merely for emphasis– all of my life.  But, that also means that it has been in use for thirty-*cough* years, and it needs a break.  This guest room situation is perfection, because it allows me to keep it in a clean, dry, temperature-controlled environment, but I don’t have to USE it daily.  I don’t want it to die on my watch, you know?  It deserves to be retired.

The Waterfall Maple Vanity (Minus Mirror)

Years ago my parents purchased the almost-matching vanity for me, knowing how well  it would compliment the dresser, and it does.  (I hear them in there whispering and flirting at night, “You, Mr. Of-Drawers, are those knobs filigreed? I bet your joints are dovetailed.”)   It is also the same amber color, but is waterfall maple instead.   It was very cleverly veneered , with seams running down the center of each section, so the ripples are symmetrical everywhere.  Again with the original handles, these much more substantial than the other, but still delicately detailed and unusual.  I *do* have the enormous matching mirror, it is large, lovely, and somewhat oddly shaped (more of an on-its-side oval with little pinched details than a straight circle).  Frankly I didn’t want to put it on until we were sure about the final layout of the room, it is really hard to move the piece with it still attached.  It is *also* dovetailed.  Hubba-hubba!

I wonder about the original seat for this vanity… what did it look like?  Was it elaborate, heavy, brassy metalwork, to match the handles, or was it like a wooden piano bench, with fancy claw-feet and a little tiny lip of a ‘back’ that was essentially more carved detail?  I really should do some homework on era furnishings, I bet I could get a much better idea.  Anyway, I have– somewhere currently hidden in my boxlandia of a garage– a fifties wrought iron metal vanity chair.  Its a delicate, cute, little frame of a thing, that needs a bright coat of paint and a soft seat cushion.  It being January, I am currently a bit thwarted in my efforts at painting much of anything, since ventilation + cold + paint drying = don’t go well together, but I already have the perfect can of spray paint on hand, awaiting the finding of the stool, and the weather to all match up.  I could even get started on the seat cushion in the meantime.

The Antique Iron and Brass Bed

The full size bed is an interesting story.  It was purchased by me, with my own money, at a flea market, right before I went into the fourth grade.  That summer, I was tasked to sandblast it, a most tedious and unfortunate duty to perform in the summertime in Tennessee.  The sand goes everywhere, and hurts, so you have to wear heavy, protective clothing, and a mask, and gloves, and, well it is HOT in August in Nashville.  I almost loathed the thing before I ever slept in it.  At some point my mother took pity on me and spent one of her work bonuses having it dipped and stripped at some auto shop.  She painted it cream.  (Thank you, my dear, kind Mom.)  The first time that I polished the brass accents, they looked very much as they do now, dingy and almost black with oxidation.  This is something else I tackled in the heat of Tennessee summertime.  I was asked to clean them up by my father every few years during my living-at-home time, and then I was rescued by Martha Stewart.  I read Martha Stewart Living pretty religiously the first few years it was published (yes, in high school!), and there was an entire article she did about how to get your coated brass items to have that ‘fantastic, oxidized, antique finish.’  Here she was, acting like this was a look we WANTED, something that was to be coveted and simulated, and I was scrubbing it off!  I remember I covertly tore that out and saved it for the next time the chore was assigned to me… oddly, it worked, and I’ve not polished the brass since.  I actually prefer the dark brass to the, er… shiny, golden, ‘brassy’ stuff, and not because Martha told me to.  Probably because deep down I am lazy, and it’s easier to like it this way.

As for the cream paint on the iron, that’s a *different* interesting story.  The bed was creamy for about 10 years, and my parents acquired a Moluccan Cockatoo– a funny little fuzzmonster named Randall.  I am a napper, I always have been, I love a good nap, and Randall was of a like mind.  Often I would bring him to my room, where he would hang out on my footboard rail and chill out while I read or listened to music or whatever.  It was not a rarity for this parrot and I to take naps ‘together,’ him up on the foot rail and me passed out on top of the covers.  If he woke before I did, he would plop down onto the bed and wake me by pulling on the hem of my jeans.  So cute.  He’s not in our life anymore, and while I desperately *want* to paint the bed a fun, poppy color (I am just SO not a cream person, you know?) I love, love the nostalgia of all those little nicks on the footboard.  These spots really are one of those things that in the eyes of others are simply ugly scratches, but to me, they are such a sweet memory.  I crave the perfectly designed guest room, but I don’t know if the nostalgic girl in me can do it yet.  For right now, I’m leaving it.

The Deciderers– The Green Things

These pieces are great, but none of them help me determine what color scheme to go with in the room.  It is, quite simply, a blank slate in there.  Cream walls, cream trim, cream bedframe, golden brown vanity and dresser….  Veryveryvery neutral.  I’d like to balance the color enough to be present, but also allow the room to be restful.  One of the worst things I could possibly be told by a guest is that the color of my wall paint kept them awake.  Oy!  That would hurt.  While we three can all do purple walls and orange sheets and sleep like a log– even during daylight and a nap–I know that might be a special skill unique to my household.  My expectations should likely be looser for those sleeping in the guest bed!

All my bedding is pretty tired, so I could start pretty fresh from there, and I feel like I should.  I also have the pains about how it needs to feel like its a part of the rest of the house, not just some random attachment that is incongruous in the overall scheme.  “Welcome to my mondo-mode eclectic abode!  And then this one room we have is shabby chic!”–  Nope, doesn’t work for me.  Color has to be important.  It has to be present.  So that leaves me walking a tricky line– make it look like part of the house, but don’t make it crazy.  (I really kind of enjoy crazy.)

Enter my smaller items, several of which are green, so I’m calling them my “Deciderers.”  They’ve moved me in a direction. I have a couple of pieces of vintage luggage that are green, they will be great for storing extra blankets and stuff, and they go well with the travel feel that’s present with, well, visitors.  So that’s a few pieces, and then we have the items pictured above.  Not the same greens really, but they are both light and fresh tones, and I still think they work together.

This two-tier end table (pictured) is a bit shabbier than my usual thing, but its one of the few pieces from Pan’s single life that is still around and kicking, and it always finds itself a useful spot some where in my home.  When we got married, it was still in its stained wood state, all walnut and dark, but worn the fudge out, so it had massive scratches, rings from many years of glasses, and pieces of the carved ‘ornate’ bits had fallen off.  It was also a bit wobbly…  I was pregnant when I decided it needed to be apple green for the nursery, so I sent him out to the back yard to spray paint it for me, making his first spray paint project, ever.  Poor, dear, sweet husband.  Painting is not his strong suit.  He came in from the back yard and told me, “I think I just made it worse.  When it dries, I’m just going to throw it out.”  I told him I wanted to see it first, but his comment was actually pretty freeing.  I knew then that he wasn’t so attached to it that I couldn’t mess with it further, so that’s just what I did.  I sanded the crap out of it (that being something I *could* do while pregnant), and sort of aged and stained it with a blend of acrylics and water, and I like the end result.  I’ve had several family members tell me they want it when I get rid of it, which is always a great compliment.  And it’s nice knowing it’s in the room where they sleep when they visit my town, so they get to enjoy it!

The lamp will stay in here as well.  The colors in the shade helped my decision.  I like the use of the buttery yellow and the white, it will help me draw a crisp white into the space without making the cream of the bed look terrible.  It also has that dark chocolate color, which gives me an idea.  (I have heavy brown drapes from the last house that I don’t intend to use elsewhere– and they’re blackout drapes which would be really nice for controlling light for those not-so-deep sleepers.)  I bought the curvy lamp at Home Goods on clearance for about twenty bucks– crazy shade included– intending to give it to my little sister for Christmas.  She collects jadeite, and the lamp seems like it might be the compliment for such a glassware collection.  But then at Thanksgiving, my Dad needed a lamp to read by, and that one got plugged in right there.  And it sort of looked, well, great.  So I bought her other stuff for Christmas, intending to keep the lamp.  December 22 she rolls through town on the way to my parents’ house for the holiday, and when I show her to her room, what’s the first thing she says?  “Ohmigod, I LOVE that lamp!”  Of course you do.  At least my picker is not broken.  We agreed on a bit of a joint custody situation, while she lives in her current tiny place I get to keep it for the guest room, but I have to surrender it when she wants it eventually.  I can live with that, I did buy it with her in mind….

So, I must now use a fresh, Spring green in my guest room, which is awesome, since a) green is already being used all over the rest of the house and b) it is known for being soothing.  (Think of “the green room,” painted that color to calm the actors, pre-show.)  That works for me.  Chocolate brown would be nice, as it grounds bold colors well, and allows me to throw in a few more items that will go with the room.  (For instance, I have some luxe chocolate pillowcases that will be great in there.)  My color scheme is coming together, but it still lacks the feel of the rest of the house.  It’s at this point, when I’m traveling home for the holidays and thinking about adding a pop of color.  Brown and lime are all well and good, but I need a dash of something else….  something to solidify it and make it ‘stick.’  Then– the whole color concept is cinched by a vintage tablecloth my mother gave me for Xmas!  Its got a little hole by one hem, so its perfect for a cutter craft project.  The cloth is on a white, heavy cotton base, with paisley-like flowers in fresh greens, little tiny bits of buttery yellow, vines of coral, all outlined with a deep chocolate brown.  I LOVE this fabric because the print is sort of fussy and traditional, but the colors are fun– and it will allow me to introduce my white and peach chenille bedspread somewhere to the situation.  This one large tablecloth will help me bind the look the room’s look together, and I can come up with something more cohesive.  I’m so excited!  I’m on the right track, for sure….

Vintage Tablecloth/ Fabric

Vintage Tablecloth/ Fabric

So, while all of these individual pieces aren’t shining examples of my all-the-time taste, I do love them and I want to keep them in the family as long as possible.  They are also extremely sturdy and they go well together, which is a real win-win, I sort of love that I can present my overnight visitors with such an attractive arrangement of furniture.    Its really easy to let your guest space be the hodge-podge of leftovers, and while that is ultimately true for our place, I’m hoping it won’t *appear* that way.  I have a tiny fear that it will look thrown-together, so it is one of my goals to avoid that. What else can I do, but careful planning in the use of my paints, fabrics, and accessories?   What touches can I add to make my loved ones feel more at home?  In the end, all I really want is for my friends and family to feel welcome, comfortable, and rested.   (Okay, and stuffed full of tasty vittles, but that’s handled in another room!)


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